Mountain Alder (Alnus tenuifolia)
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This is an excellent pioneer species for re-establishing woodlands on disused farmland, difficult sites etc. Its fast rate of growth means that it quickly provides sheltered conditions to allow more permanent woodland trees to become established. In addition, bacteria on the roots fix atmospheric nitrogen – whilst this enables the tree to grow well in quite poor soils it also makes some of this nitrogen available to other plants growing nearby. Alder trees also have a heavy leaf canopy and when the leaves fall in the autumn they help to build up the humus content of the soil. Alder seedlings do not compete well in shady woodland conditions and so this species gradually dies out as the other trees become established[K].
The tree has an extensive root system and can be planted to control banks from erosion.
The bark and the strobils are a source of tannin. A dark dye is obtained from the bark. The colour can range from orange through red to brown.
Wood – soft, straight-grained, very durable in water. It is of no commercial value, though it is used locally as a fuel.
Cultivation & Habitat
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